ANTIOCH -- County Supervisor Federal Glover chided city leaders for their approval this week of a temporary ordinance placing restrictions on new social service providers for those low-level offenders recently released from state prison.
Antioch's ordinance, which is in place for 45 days, requires that the providers of mentoring, housing assistance, job training and other services for ex-cons obtain conditional use permits and locate in areas zoned for business and professional services.
"We don't want to limit their services. We want to limit the places where they can set up shop," Mayor Wade Harper said.
The city will use the grace period to study appropriate locations and hours of operation for the resource centers, specifically away from places such as schools, parks and senior centers.
Glover, of Pittsburg, sent out a news release a day after the City Council's March 26 approval, saying he was surprised Antioch raised concerns "basically at the last minute," adding that the move places an unfair financial burden on service providers and adds an unneeded obstacle to getting people the help they need to stay out of jail.
"What Antioch needs to realize is that ex-felons are already in their city and are without the services that would be provided by these agencies," said Glover, whose district includes part of Antioch. "Without the programs and services, the likelihood of them reoffending is more likely."
Antioch has Contra Costa's largest number of former inmates, also known as "AB109ers" in reference to the 2011 Assembly Bill, released through realignment.
Antioch has had 107 AB109ers return since the law took effect, while Richmond has 90, Concord 77 and Pittsburg 72; Martinez has 30 and Brentwood and Oakley have 14 apiece, ¿Antioch police Capt. Steve McConnell said.
City officials have been part of a county task force bracing for the state's prison realignment since early 2010. However, it hadn't received inquires from providers until a month ago when an agency sought to lease space by the Nick Rodriguez Community Center and Antioch Senior Center,¿¿ said Tina Wehrmeister, the city's community development director.
"After this request, staff felt it would be prudent to ask if there's a desire to regulate these uses," she said.
The council opted against an outright 45-day ban on the service providers.
"We have to offer the chance for (AB109ers) to get back on their feet, reunite with family members and re-engage to become a whole person," Harper said. "We have a responsibility to allow the individuals to get services they need to become responsible citizens."
The restriction comes in the same week as the county opened bids for agencies wanting to provide services.
Contra Costa is allocating $4.5 million of the state money it received to community-based organizations to provide services: with 40 percent going to East Contra Costa.
Glover insists the council's action now places an unnecessary burden on community-based organizations, which are already cash-strapped and will be hard- pressed to pay the additional fees, which are at least $2,000.
"It could dissuade some agencies from applying," said David Fraser, Glover's chief of staff.
Harper said maybe there are methods the city can explore to help providers recover those fees.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.